Errata metrics

I was flipping through one of my bookshelf faves, Gary A. Donahue's Network Warrior, when I came across a blatant miscommunication regarding NSSA External LSAs in OSPF. I always try to make a sincere effort to conduct peer review, so I surfed over to the O'Reilly site and pulled up the book's errata.

As no one had yet drawn attention to the error, I submitted my correction and proceeded to look over the existing errata. Admittedly, I was surprised to find such a long list, particularly one containing so many technical errors. Still, writing a book is in no way easy, and when trying to cover a lot of material, errors will creep in. That's why errata exist. But this errata business piqued my interest. What kind of errata do legendary guys like Doyle, Odom, Tanenbaum and the like have floating about?

It turns out that, as one might expect, the great networking tomes of the world have very short errata indeed. In terms of the number of errors, Odom's CCIE Routing and Switching Official Exam Certification Guide came in first, followed by Tanenbaum's Computer Networks. As you may have guessed, Doyle's Routing TCP/IP wins here, with only 16 errors listed for both volumes, all editions. In terms of technical errors, though, I found none. All three books contained only errors in the language or syntax.

In the end, substantial technical review no doubt contributes greatly to shorter errata, and two of the books whose errata I evaluated were Cisco Press, who likely have an army of 20+ year CCIEs to conduct technical review. What's more, the latter three books consisted of a college textbook and two CCIE prep guides. Clearly, the stakes are higher in this context than would be the case with a much more casually written, conversational book like Network Warrior. Still, it is interesting to compare a set of top-notch books this way and see how they compare using quantifiable data.

1 comment:

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